By Charlie Magan
The Cardinal Ritter Boys Basketball Team tipped the season off this weekend going 1-1 and showing a lot of promise for big things to come this year. On Friday the Raiders took on Indy Met in a packed house at CRHS.
The buzz in the air on Friday night was electric. The fans filled the seats and it was so loud it felt like March Madness in December. The Raiders took that energy and used it as the spark that fired them for the night.
Out the gate the Raiders started with a 7-0 run against the Pumas, but Indy Metro came back with a 10-4 run of their own to make it a 1 point game midway through the first. Every time the Raiders scored, Indy Met was able to score a basket of their own. The Pumas showed that they were not going to go out without a fight. The smallest mistakes by the Pumas would cause the Raider Brigade to erupt in the stands, but Indy Met still did not crumble.
The first quarter was back and forth but in in the end Cardinal Ritter led 22-18. The second quarter was again a battle but “Nasty” Nate Soltis ignited the crowd with a return to sender that the Pumas regained possession. However, with the block, the momentum was clearly in the Raiders favor.
A few plays later, thanks to some stellar defense (that the Raiders held throughout the game), Soltis had a steal and broke away for a filthy two handed jam which almost tore the roof off of the gym. At the end of the half the score was 32-28, Raiders.
The Pumas ran a 2-3 zone in the first half that Cardinal Ritter could score against but were unable to fully exploit. Senior Tharran Cook was asked how they broke through Metro’s zone in the 2nd half and his answer was, “Every year our third quarter has been our strongest… Since we (the team) are always together, I think we have built a bond with each other and sort of a brotherhood, which allows us to be honest… I believe we were able to flip the switch because we talked to each other in the locker room and had that ability to hold each other accountable for mistakes.”
The talk must have worked because the Raiders found an answer for the 2-3 zone and exploded on offense which began early when “I Can See For” Miles Tracy streaked down the middle of the lane caught a pass and ended with an emphatic one handed dunk shot.
The Raiders defense also stepped up and played like a school of great whites. “If I had to compare our (defensive) toughness, I’d say a shark. We strike hard and fast, and by the time you start to realize what’s going on, it’s way too late to do anything about it,” said Cook about their defensive showing in the second half.
The only time the Raiders faltered was when Joey “Gamer” Gruber was hobbled by an injury and went down with an apparent calf pointer. The Pumas pounced on the opportunity and went on a mini run. But before they could claw their way back into the game, the Raiders stole the ball, and Cook passed it up court to Soltis for another forceful 2 handed slam. This brought the crowd back to life which propelled the Raiders to score 28 points in the fourth and capped off the 81-62 victory.
The Raiders showed good ball movement and quick passing throughout the game on offense. Leading the scoring was Soltis who dropped 27 followed by Tracy with 17. Also scoring for the Raiders was Cook with 10, “Finding” Nemo Jones and Brice Buels had 7 and Dan Bayler and Le’Ron Fleming chipped in 5 a piece.
On Saturday the boys followed up the Friday win by travelling to Heritage Christian. The match-up between the Raiders and Eagles has become a contentious, physical match-up over the last couple of years and Saturday was no different. The crowd was ruthless and the physicality was shown early as the teams accumulated more than 25 fouls in the first half. A half that saw the Raiders down by 8 going into the third. By the end of the game, 3 players had fouled out and multiple players had 4 fouls. The Raiders played tough all game ultimately falling 68-59.
Leading the scoring on Saturday was Tracy who put in 20 points while collecting 16 boards from the point guard position. Bayler added a spark off the bench putting in 16 points of his own.
The JV Team came back from 10 down in the 4th to beat the Eagles. Damon Ogletree led the team with 16 points, while Fleming had 12 and Aiden Cannon finished with 11.